Whiter Whites

Tea pot and coffee maker at Pete and Shelley's

My current camera, a Sony RX100, has all sorts of options, ones I really use. But I am glad I have them. The auto mode is so good I have been spoiled. I hardly leave it but I know I should. If only to control the background focus. Duane tells me he runs around town with his ISO set to 1600. There is an advantage there that I can only imagine. I remember when that speed was twice what was possible with fast, grainy Kodak black and white film.

I recently photographed the a batch of oil paintings on wood panels. The ground was most white but you would never know it looking at my photos. I came up with maybe a 5 on the grey scale where it should have been white. I knew I should have been setting the white point and shooting with manual mode but I knocked off the shots in auto mode. They paintings are currently hanging in a show but next time I will do it right and I have a pile of my father’s watercolors that I would like to photograph next.

I called Duane for instructions. He worked for Lowel, a lighting company, and I use four Lowel brand Tota lights. We started with my bulbs. A couple are high quality Quartzand the others are Home Depot tungsten lamps which can change color spectrum as they age. I got on Amazon and ordered 5 EIKO FCZ 120V/500W R7s Base Stage and Studio Lamp from Barndoor Lighting Outfitters.

Not only were my whites not white, they were wildly uneven. Most likely the lights were too close to the subject. He suggested I step two feet to the sides of the paintings and then step back at least six feet from the surface of the painting to set the four lights. Two lamps on each side, barn doors set open about 45 degrees. As for aiming Duane recommended that I cross light the paintings so the the lights on the left side of the painting should be lighting the right side of the painting.

To set the white balance Duane suggested I frame a shot in auto made so it is full white, the same same white as ground on the paintings, and take note of the readings (iso, Fstop and shutter speed). Then use the same settings in manual mode (where my camera allows me to capture and store that white balance).

Finally, still in Manual mode, I will try an ISO of 400, an F stop at 8 and then get the M.M. setting to zero out by selecting the appropriate shutter speed. I will report back.

One Response to “Whiter Whites”

  1. andrea Says:

    loving this post.

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